Then Jim Leyland did something inexplicable, unforgivable. He brought in Jeremy Bonderman in a three-run game! Predictably, Bonderman got beat up like a rented mule and the White Sox tacked on three more runs to take a 6-0 lead. The game looked like it was going to turn into a laugher and with the Indians having beaten the Astros, the Tigers had surely frittered away their last remaining chance to clinch the division at Comerica Park.
More after the jump
Not so fast! Jones came back out for the ninth and was suddenly mortal. After giving up a leadoff triple to Torii Hunter, Jones allowed an RBI single to Miguel Cabrera. Fans sarcastically cheered on Twitter, because at least they wouldn’t get shut out for the twelfth time this year. Then Jones gave up a single to Prince Fielder, putting men on first and second. Then Victor Martinez came up and hit a double to score Cabrera and move Fielder to third. And then Andy Dirks pinch hit for Matt Tuiasosopo and slugged maybe his biggest hit of the year, a three-run homer to bring the Tigers to within one run.
Finally, Ventura pulled Jones in favor of closer Addison Reed. It didn’t go much better for the White Sox, as Reed struggled mightily with his command, walking four of the seven batters he faced. The last batter Reed faced, Torii Hunter, hit a game tying sacrifice fly to tie the game at six. The White Sox brought in shrimp alert candidate Donnie Veal, but Veal was able to retire Fielder to get the Sox out of the inning and to the tenth.
After trading scoreless innings, Miguel Cabrera’s spot in the lineup came up to bat in the twelfth. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Cabrera came out of the game after the six-run rally. Don Kelly proved to be no slouch, however, as he worked a walk—Kelly now has as many walks as he does strikeouts (27!)—and advanced to second on a Fielder ground out. Martinez was intentionally walked to bring up Dirks, the hero of the night. Dirks walked too, to bring up Omar Infante. Infante hit a weak single to second to score Kelly, and cap off a wild night at Comerica Park as the Tigers won 7-6.
With the victory tonight, the Tigers’ magic number is down to two games. A Tigers win and an Indians loss tomorrow afternoon ensures the Tigers will clinch the division at Comerica Park.
Anibal Sanchez (14-7, 2.51 ERA) will attempt to help that scenario to come to fruition tomorrow, as he faces Erik Johnson (1-2, 2.87 ERA). The Tigers previously faced Johnson on September 10th and jumped on him for six runs—two earned—on seven hits in only 3.2 IP.